In North America, cable set-top CAS is provided by CableCards as mandated by the FCC. All cable and Verizon FiOS set-tops have CableCards. A digital home media architecture consisting of a home gateway (headed/headless) and remote IP clients, requires that CAS be terminated in the gateway device. Content is shared or streamed towards IP clients via WiFi/MoCA/Enet. Thus, the cost of supporting CA devices is only in the gateway. Content protection from the gateway to client uses DTCP-IP.
CAS support may also be embedded (for non-cable card hosts) or be provided via Smart Cards. For homes with multiple TVs, it is cost effective to have CA support in the gateway device and low-cost 'thin' IP clients that support DTCP-IP or other DRM.
With ARM processors, advanced secuirty features with TrustZone™ can be used to ensure protection of premium content. This is already being used with high-value services for OTT IPTV services.
SO true, this was bound to happen. Actually Set top box, smartphone and tablet should be all linked. It can do wonders in home entertainment. These would be the primary action makers in home automation.
Comcast to buy Time Warner & Disney loving up to DirecTV - hard to tell how those will play out. An a-la-carte would generally be nice. I don't need to pay for the women's channels with their theme of "All Men Are Created Evil" and I'm ready to boot the Alien Invasion and Bigfoot science "History" channels. But to me that's what Steve Jobs did: found the right spot for price, availability, and copyright protection so the end users as well as the content providers were all happy, even if Apple skims their fair share of the transaction. iTunes completely changed the music industry and people don't have to buy a 12-song album to listen to just their favorite song.
But the collection of disparate equipment that has to be hooked up and coordinated to decide what, where, and how to watch on Saturday night is ridiculous. The user interfaces are terrible conglomerations of old designs showing me programs I can't watch in my package or don't want the kids to ask what Debbie is doing to Dallas. And voice control and swiping are no solution. The cable company doesn't really want to know the gestures I'm giving it.
The TV isn't just for watching the 6 o'clock news any more. People play games, watch Blu-Ray discs, and get videos from Internet-based sources. Someone is always showing me another lovely large rimless screen hanging delicately on the wall, but in real life there's a mass of equipment and wires spilling out from behind the blowing curtain to feed it. We've got to consolidate that stuff and I'm not seeing STBs or Smart TV's doing it. And the chips aren't really preventing us from getting there.
That seems like a reasonable prediction of the way things will play out. First entry level set top boxes manifest themselves, then tey take over the market learning how to do television the best way possible, and finally CAS and RF fall into place as well.
I like that you put the Chinese in quotes, they are so often treated as a homogenous mass and addressed with the same simplistic tone. I also think you have a point that the audience is mostly people who simply want to be entertained, not the technologically-savy necessarily. Not sure Apple losing Jobs really shifts things in the industry as much as you say, though. We'll see about that.
The whole concept of Set Top Box needs to be thrown out and re-invented. Same for the TV - everything but the screen is replicated in the STB or AV receiver (what's an "antenna"?). Meantime the home gateway is being eyed for everything from energy management, home controls, home security, Internet, TV, gaming, streaming media, digital storage, phone (what is a "land line"?), all forms of wireless, and the NSA. Maybe there's an FM radio in there somewhere. And the smart phone may become the universal remote to it all.
Home gateways and STBs are designed for engineers - and the service providers who are wrestling for your monthly dollar. The common homeowner is befuddled by 75 forms of messy cabling, all manner of attached equipment, and swarms of resolutions, aspect ratios, formats, codecs, and jargon. Who among us readers isn't playing tech support for all our family and friends? People can't tell if the TV is off, or if it's on but the cable box is off so only a black screen is showing on the TV. Is the channel 3 in the corner from the TV, the STB, or the DVD recorder?
And heaven help you if you just want to find or record Keeping Up with the Wildest Housewives of Honey BooBoo. Why do I have to know what network it's on (only one?), what channel number that is (different for different TV's being fed by different STBs or OTA), which has the best quality picture, or what recording conflicts will occur? As for real-time, you're dead meat if some political speech was jammed in or the ball game runs long because you'll never find out if the butler did it. So much consumer electronics these days is like a Model T in the 20's: you'd better have a good mechanic nearby.
I kept hoping Apple would solve this problem for the users; but now Jobs is gone. I'm guessing it's not about ARM vs. MIPS or Linaro or Sony vs. Samsung or cable vs. satellite or 2nd, 3rd, or 4th screen engagement. It might be about Hollywood and the networks vs. the viewers at what price. It is most certainly about listening to the end user. The guts of a smart phone - the application processor - don't cover the technology needed for a full-sized multi-channel STB-DVR, let alone the all-singing, all-dancing home gateway.
The TV / home entertainment area is just a mess from what I can see, which means there's lots of opportunity to fix it. I don't know that "the Chinese" have any advantage (they're coming from way behind). But somebody had better start by listening to the real end user - the citizens of the world who aren't techno-wizards but just want to be entertained.
New entrants like Allwinner and other Chinese vendors have lots of opportunity with IP set tops (Roku, Chromecast, and so on), entry level cable set tops and Smart TV.
They will conquer these segments first, learning how to do "TV" effectively and efficiently. Then they will develop or acquire missing pieces like CAS and maybe the RF front end (full spectrum receivers? broacast tuners?).